ATG No 1871, January 3, 2009, featured a letter from Richard Peskett of the Grayshott Village Archive appealing for information about the whereabouts of the lost original pub sign from the Hampshire village’s only public house, The Fox and Pelican.
The pub was set up by the Grayshott and District Refreshment
Association in 1899 along the lines of a temperance house (although
alcohol was available) and the sign had been painted by the
well-known Arts and Crafts artist/designer Walter Crane.
In 1913 when The Fox and Pelican was sold to The People's
Refreshment House Association, the sign was felt to have
deteriorated so a copy was created and the original handed over to
Grayshott Parish Council for safe keeping.
Council minutes from January and April 1914 note the hanging of
the sign in the village hall and the agreement for restoration work
to be carried out on it. But then the trail runs cold. Later in
1914, the hall was turned over to the military authorities.
In his letter to ATG, Mr Peskett asked "What has happened to the
sign which would now be considered an important work of art? Was it
destroyed in the turmoil of the First World War or simply lost?" He
added that although the original ironwork for the sign was still in
place, the sign board had been replaced several times.
So has an answer to the mystery turned up in Essex at
The pub sign pictured here, which has been consigned to the
auctioneers' April 27 sale by a vendor from Wales, came from a skip
outside the Grayshott pub during refurbishment around 30 or 40
years ago, from which the vendor was given permission to retrieve
Sworders' sign has been repainted to the side that depicts the
actual animals but the other, bearing the pub's name surrounded by
oak leaves, carries the original paintwork and there is also an
indistinct artist's monogram featuring a crane within a square.
Its appearance certainly provides another twist to the
fascinating, if convoluted, tale of a piece of British folk art. It
will carry an estimate for £500-800 at Sworders.
By Anne Crane